Terry Collins said, “Tells you how things have been going,” and it was about nine guys that came to bat in the Mets seven-run sixth inning Saturday night at Citi Field. He let out a sigh of relief about that inning which paved the way to a 8-1 win over the Marlins. A laugh from Collins and and there was a reason.
We saw the beginnings of the new-look Mets. Curtis Granderson was gone and made his debut as a Dodger Saturday night. Rene Rivera is with the Cubs and will join his new team Sunday. They were maybe the last of this purge with the lone survivor, Asdrubal Cabrera, and how ironic because he was the one that vouched for a trade months ago.
Cabrera appears to be the veteran now in the clubhouse, along with Jose Reyes. And Reyes will stay because he is the mentor or “Little Brother” to the rookie Amed Rosario. A different look for these New York Mets and the next six weeks the youngsters will get playing time as decisions will be made as to who will be a part of this rebuilding process.
This wasn’t a good week for Collins. Losing four straight to the crosstown Yankees is not good, neither is the record and standing 15 games under .500. Like him or not, and whether he returns or not next year, Collins wants to win ballgames and forget that his team scored 15 runs and batted .204 in a five game losing streak that was stopped.
He also wants to see the competition take place to provide this organization with a better perspective of what should be done in 2018.
The Mets turned five double plays that tied a team record. They took advantage of three Marlins errors in that sixth inning that manufactured runs. Rafael Montero turned in his second straight quality start, Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki each hit two-run homers and the new look Mets also saw rookie Dominic Smith hit his second career home run and first at Citi Field.
Said Collins, “If you’re gonna win baseball games in the Major Leagues and the other team gives you chances, 30 outs, you better take advantage of it.”
More importantly, the manager is looking at the new-look Mets. Decisions will be made and Plawecki now has to prove that he can be a quality backup to Travis d’Arnaud, now that Rene Rivera was sent packing to the Cubs for cash and that supposed player to be named later.
“I felt good,” Plawecki said. “Almost felt like my first at bats in the big leagues again. Nights like tonight are nice to see that all the hard work pays off. Just happy to get back here and get a win.” Plawecki always had the potential that has never lived up to expectations and has done that shuffle of back-and-forth from Triple-A Las Vegas to Citi Field to get it right.
Now Plawecki has the opportunity and though it was one game, this was a start. Because these are the new-look Mets that will be seen, and perhaps with a cameo or two from Tim Tebow next next month when rosters expand, because Tebow will put fans in the seats in what will be a spring training type of atmosphere at Citi Field.
But for now, Plawecki is here and intends to stay. His playing time in the last 39 games could determine if he has a viable role with the new-look Mets. So does Juan Lagares in the outfield now that Granderson and Jay Bruce are with teams looking at the postseason, and Michael Conforto will be more comfortable in right field where he belongs and there will be looks for Brandon Nimmo who was in the leadoff spot in center.
And it will be important for Wilmer Flores to show he belongs here and that started with his 15th home run in the sixth inning to left field.
Though he is not a new-look Met, Rafael Montero hopes to be in this equation. He was always supposed to be that important cog with this young pitching rotation, but Montero never lived up to expectations.
He had the command with a sinker and fastball. Montero was ahead in the count and got the double play ball. “He kept the ball in the zone,” said Collins. That’s all you can ask for and for a change the manger was able to smile.
Because these are the new-look Mets and the auditions have started, maybe this is their version of pressure to play good baseball in late August and September. The transition has started as the Mets look ahead because this was a season that never was.